My first born began his middle school life this morning and I am a mess. My chest is tight, I can’t seem to sit still and forming a coherent thought seems to be out of the question. Some of my freak out stems from small things like, “Will he get on the right bus this afternoon?” or “Will he lose his lunch bag on the first day?”
Then there is the big one: This is middle school.
This is the time of puberty, awkwardness and finding a place to belong. Flashes of my own experience overtake me as I worry for him. Of course, I am prone to be anxious–enough to warrant a prescription for Xanax (swallowing one is not out of the question today). J has inherited this anxiety from me, but He seemed less nervous than his mother this morning as I sent him off into the world.
I’ve actually been having sporadic panic attacks about this upcoming school year all summer. Even spent some time looking up online schools. This is what I try to do. What just about every parent wants to do. Protect my kids at all costs. Protect them from physical harm, yes, but also from the pain of rejection, loneliness and a broken heart.
But here is what I am having to remind myself today: I am not meant to hide him from the world. I can’t. The world is a scary and dangerous place, especially the small world of middle school. It’s brutal out there.
But it’s also beautiful. Glennon Doyle Melton (Momastery) calls it brutiful. A bit of both harsh and lovely, pain and joy. It’s risky.
“But sometimes risk doesn’t leave us empty handed. Sometimes as a result of setting out into the brutiful world we find great love, beauty, friendship, and wisdom. Sometimes the rewards of risk don’t leave us wrecked. Sometimes we find our passion, our purpose, courage, connection, and comfort. Every good thing in our lives is a direct result of risk.
The rewards of engaging an unpredictable world are also great.
If no pain, then no love. If no darkness, no light. If no risk – then no reward. It’s all or nothing. In this damn world, it’s all or nothing.”
I hope that I am raising a son who risks. Who takes chances even in the face of fear. I hope that he finds the strength to move forward and discover the incredible person that he already is.